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How To Build Self Confidence And Prepare Yourself For Success In Life

How To Build Self Confidence And Prepare Yourself For Success In Life

Do you act in a way that’s governed by other people’s opinions?

Do you continually stay in your comfort zone for fear of failure?

Do you fear making mistakes and cover them up before anyone finds out?

Do you feel you need constant recognition for your successes to feel validated?

Or do you simply find it hard to accept compliments?

Self-confidence is something we all want but for a huge number of us, it can be a struggle in our day-to-day lives.

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If you say “yes” to any of the above questions, it means you still need to work on strengthening your self-confidence. And the key to overcoming low self-confidence is understanding what it is and ways we can combat it head on.

The Difference Between Self-Confidence And Self-Esteem

Many people can’t differentiate these two concepts. While they may seem similar, there are fundamental differences between self-confidence and self-esteem.

Self-confidence is about our ability to trust in ourselves and how we deal with challenges or difficult situations. Self-esteem is our cognitive and emotional assessment of ourselves that is connected with our worth.[1]

Both of these don’t always go hand in hand. Someone with an abundance of self-confidence may have significant low self-esteem. A typical example of this would be a performer who can stand on stage to thousands of people but who destroys himself with alcohol and drugs behind closed doors.

The great thing about working on raising your self-confidence is that it’s much easier than working on your self-esteem. By boosting confidence first and foremost, you can then be better equipped to target any self-esteem issues.

Self-Confidence Level Determines How Successful You Are

Self-confidence is crucial when it comes to our learning and capabilities. Our confidence can affect our performance and relationships with others and is a much stronger indication of success than self-esteem.[2]

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And this is down to what we believe is true about ourselves. Our beliefs influence heavily what we think we are capable of. In other words, mindset is a big determinant in how much self-confidence we have.

If we believe we are no good at a task then our performance is lessened significantly. The influence our mind has on our abilities can be the difference between performing well or performing less than our actual capabilities. Fears are therefore fundamental to our level of confidence and transcends throughout different areas of our life.

How Can We Build Up Our Self-Confidence?

There are many ways we can build up our self-confidence so what are some good hacks we can apply to our day-to-day lives?

Fake It ‘Til You Make It

If you have low self-confidence then the advice of ‘being yourself’ can be detrimental. This is where faking confidence can really help you move forward with success. Paying attention to how you want to present yourself to others can give you clarity into striving to act in this way.[3]

Sometimes it’s easier to change from the outside in – in other words, once we get used to acting in a confident way, it can become more familiar and we can start to see positive results.

Your Every Gesture Counts

Body language is an important way to convey confidence. When we have low self-confidence it can be apparent in the way we physically hold ourselves. Standing up tall and even doing power poses (think Superman) can change the way we think to that of confidence. Try it throughout the day and see the difference it makes. Talk more slowly – taking time to think about what you want to say – and making eye contact will give the impression of confidence.

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Here’s a video that gives you more idea of how to act with confidence:[4]

Dress For Confidence

Studies have shown that what you wear can have significant influence on how you feel and act.[5] Dressing up in clothes that make you feel confident can change your attitude and outlook on a stressful situation.

Change Your Mindset

Mindset is extremely important when it comes to confidence. Confident people focus on more positive thoughts and outcomes than negative ones. Try to change your perspective and habit of thinking – focus on abundance rather than lack. Know that the outcome doesn’t necessarily reflect your abilities.

Celebrate Small Wins

People with low self-confidence have a tendency to put a lot of pressure on the bigger picture. The secret to building more confidence is to focus more on the small steps we take. Direct more significance to small wins and celebrate them as this will help you realise how far you’ve come. In essence, become your own cheerleader.

See How You Become A Better You

Taking up a new skill like learning a language can help you to build up confidence. Seeing improvements and keeping track of progress will instinctively build up how you see yourself in terms of ability. It can also help distract and calm the mind, blocking any worrying or overthinking that may arise from other areas of your life.

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Recommended Reading Material

    If books are your thing, then You Are A Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life by Jen Sincero is an excellent read to help you build your confidence and tackle your fears. It provides inspirational stories and easy exercises to follow all in a humorous and relatable fashion. It helps you to identify the behaviours and negative beliefs that are keeping you back from being the fully confident person you’re capable of being!

    So, remember building confidence is really a combination of mindset and changing our detrimental behavioural patterns. But the key is knowing that low self-confidence can be overcome.

    “Low self-confidence isn’t a life sentence. Self-confidence can be learned, practiced, and mastered–just like any other skill. Once you master it, everything in your life will change for the better.” – Barrie Davenport

    Reference

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    Jenny Marchal

    Freelance Writer

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    Last Updated on April 23, 2019

    How to Set Stretch Goals and Keep Your Team Motivated

    How to Set Stretch Goals and Keep Your Team Motivated

    Stretch goals are a lot like physical fitness. When you adopt a physical sport such as running, continual practice leads to increased stamina, growth and progress.

    While commitment to the sport improves performance, true growth happens when you are stretched beyond your comfort zone. I know this from personal experience.

    For years, I was an avid runner. I ran with a variety of running groups in the Washington, D.C., area and in Columbus, Ohio, where I lived prior to moving to the nation’s capital in 2011.

    While I was initially fearful about slacking off on my exercise habit when I moved to D.C., running enthusiasts in the area provided continual motivation, inspiring me to lace up my shoes day after day. Much to my surprise, many of the area’s running stores (including Pacers and Potomac River Running) boasted running groups that met in the mornings and evenings. So, it was relatively easy for a newcomer like me to connect with like-minded peers.

    I was never a particularly fast runner, but I enjoyed the afterglow of the sport: being completely drained but feeling a sense of accomplishment; setting and reaching goals; buying and wearing out new tennis shoes. The sound of throngs of feet pounding the pavement in semi-unison is still enough to bring tears to my eyes. Yes, I sometimes tear up at the start of races.

    Of all the groups I ran with, the Pacers Store group that met on Monday nights in Logan Circle boasted the fastest runners. I met up with the group week after week only to be the slowest runner. It was difficult to muster the courage to get up every week and meet the group knowing what was waiting for me: sweating and watching the backs of fellow runners.

    Each time I joined the group, I was stretching myself without even realizing it. Instead of feeling like I was transitioning into a better running, for a long time I felt I was torturing myself.

    Then something remarkable happened. I went for a run with a different set of runners and noticed my time had improved. I was running at a faster pace and doing so with ease. What was once uncomfortable for me I now handled with ease.

    The reason I was becoming a better runner was because I was taking myself out of my comfort zone and challenging myself physically and mentally. This example illustrates the process of growth.

    Fortunately, we can create situations that stretch us in our personal and professional lives.

    What Is a Stretch Goal?

    A stretch goal – as authors Sim B. Sitkin, C. Chet Miller and Kelly E. See detail an article “The Stretch Goal Paradox” in Harvard Business Review[1] – is something that is extremely difficult and novel. It is something that not everyone does, and it’s sometimes considered impossible.

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    In general, you establish stretch goals by doing things that are difficult or temporarily challenging.

    For instance, when I was first promoted to a senior communications management role, I knew I needed to beef up my relationships with media personalities. I set a goal to once a month book a day of media interviews in New York City – which is home to many media outlets, including SiriusXM radio, CNN, NBC News, HuffPost, VIBE.

    This was a huge goal because it meant not only identifying the right people to meet with but convincing them to meet with me and my team. While I didn’t end up meeting the goal of doing a full day of media interviews in New York City, I met more people than I would have met had I not established the goal and instead stayed in the comfort of my D.C. office.

    It is important to note that just because you establish a stretch goal doesn’t mean you’ll achieve the goal each time. However, the process of trying is guaranteed to provide some level of growth.

    The Importance of Creating Stretch Goals

    The beginning of the year is a perfect time to assess where you are excelling and where there is room for you to grow. I typically start the year by creating a yearlong strategic plan for myself.

    I think about the things that are necessary to do and things that would be cool to do. I assess the people I should know and think through how to meet them. Then I ask myself if the goals are realistic and what would need to happen for me to achieve them.

    Over time, I have learned that there are five things I can do to set stretch goals:

    1. Get Outside of Your Head

    If I exist within the confines of my imagination, I imperil my own growth and creativity.

    If I examine my accomplishments and celebrate them in isolation of others’ accomplishments, my vantage point is limited.

    I want to be comfortable with what I accomplish, but I also want to be motivated by watching others. In some respects, stretching is about expanding your network of friends, associates and mentors. These are the people who will propel or slow your growth and development.

    Since two are better than one, I always value being able to share my progress with others, seek feedback and then map a plan for success.

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    2. Focus on a Couple Areas at a Time

    When setting goals, it is important to focus on a couple of areas at a time. Most of us are only able to focus on a few things at a time, and if you feel you are unable to tackle all that is before you, you may simply disengage.

    I see this in so many areas of life:

    When people get in debt, if they believe the debt is insurmountable, they refuse to look at incoming bills for fear of facing down the debt. Unfortunately, many businesses go awry when setting stretch goals.

    In “The Stretch Goal Paradox,” Sitkin, Miller and See note:

    “Our research suggests that though the use of stretch goals is quite common, successful use is not. And many executives set far too many stretch goals. In the past five years, for example, Tesla failed to meet more than 20 of founder Elon Musk’s ambitious projections and missed half of them by nearly a year, according to the Wall Street Journal.”

    Goal-setting is like a marathon, not a sprint. It doesn’t all need to happen at the same time, and pacing is extremely important if you want to get to the finish line. It is better to focus on a couple goals at a time, master them and then move on to the next thing.

    3. Set Aside Time Each Year to Focus on Goal-Setting

    When I was a managing director for communications for the Advancement Project, I spent the first part of every year facilitating a communications planning meeting.

    The planning meeting began with the team members assessing the goals the team had established in the preceding year, and whether those goals were realistic or not. If we failed to meet certain goals, we broke down why that happened. From there, we brainstormed about possibilities for the current year.

    For instance, one year we set a goal of pitching and getting 24 opinion essays published. This was audacious because no one on the eight-person team had the luxury of focusing exclusively on editing and pitching opinion essays to publications around the world. We would need to focus on pitching in between the rest of our work.

    We hit this goal within the first eight months of the year. Remarkably, in total, we ended up getting 40 opinion essays published that year, which was an indication that our original goal was too low. We upped the goal to 41 the next year, and amazingly, we hit 42 published opinion essays or guest columns.

    From this experience, we not only learned what was feasible, we also learned the power of focus.

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    When we focused as a team on getting the commentary on our issues out in the public domain, we were successful. The key in all of this is that there was a ton of discussion around which goal we’d pursue and why.

    Equally important, as a manager, I didn’t set the goals alone; the team members and I established the goals collaboratively. This ensured buy-in from each individual.

    4. Use the S.M.A.R.T. Goal Model to Set Realistic Goals

    S.M.A.R.T.

    is a synonym for specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-bound. For the sake of this article, the realistic portion of the acronym is most important.

    While you want to set audacious goals, you want to ensure that they are realistic as well. No one is served by setting a goal that is impossible to accomplish.

    Failing to meet goals can be demoralizing for teams, so it’s important to be sober-eyed about what is possible. Additionally, the purpose of setting goals is to advance and grow, not depress morale.

    For instance, my team would have been discouraged had I begun the year asking it to pitch and place 40 opinion essays if we didn’t already have a track record of placing close to two dozen essays.

    By using the S.M.A.R.T. formula, we were able to achieve all that we set out to do.

    5. Break the Goal up into Small Digestible Parts

    I am a recovering perfectionist. As a writer, being a perfectionist can be counterproductive because I can fail to start if I don’t see a clear pathway to victory.

    The same is true with goal-setting. That’s why I join Lifehack’s fellow contributor Deb Knobelman, Ph.D., in noting that it is critically important to break goals into bite-sized chunks.

    When I had a goal of doing daylong media meetings in New York City, I had to think through all the barriers to achieving that goal and all the steps required to meet the goal.

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    One step was identifying which reporters, producers and hosts to engage. Another step was writing a pitch or meeting invitation that would capture their attention. Another step was thinking through the program areas I wanted to highlight and the new angles I could offer to different reporters.

    Since reporters want to cover stories that no one else has written, I needed to come up with fresh angles for each of the reporters I was engaging. An additional step was thinking through who from my team I’d take with me to the various meetings.

    I was clear that, as a talking head, as public relations reps are sometimes called, I needed the right spokesperson in order to land repeated meetings with different outlets.

    A final step was thinking through what I needed to bring to each meeting and which reports, videos and testimonials would buttress our claims and be of interest to media figures.

    As I walked through what was needed to bring my goal of doing daylong meetings to reality, I realized that not only was the idea within reach, but I was excited to tackle the challenge.

    From that point until now, I have learned to break down goals into smaller parts and tackle the smaller parts on the path to knocking the goal out of the park.

    The Bottom Line

    These are my recommendations for setting stretch goals, and there are a ton of other resources to support you in the workplace and in your community.

    For instance, LinkedIn’s Lynda.com platform has a wonderful suite of leadership development videos, including ones on establishing stretch goals. This is a paid resource but may be worth the investment if you lead a team or want to invest in tools for your own growth and development.

    Featured photo credit: Avatar of user Isaac Smith Isaac Smith @isaacmsmith Isaac Smith via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] Harvard Business Review: The Stretch Goal Paradox

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